Amid the din and bustle of the ever-crowded Bhendi Bazar sits Noor Mohammadi, a restaurant as old as the Bazar itself. Princes have been eating with the paupers at this eatery from the time it was created as a nalli nihari-only shop sometime in the 1920s. The restaurant, at the junction of the Abdul Hamid Noor Mohammadi Chowk below the JJ Flyover, has since undergone several facelifts, but the backbone of its existence -- the iconic nalli nihari – buffalo meat and marrow slow-cooked for almost 12 hours, remains its signature.
So enamoured by Noor Mohammadi’s nalli nihari and rotis was the legendary painter, MF Hussain, that in 2003, during one of his visits to the eatery, he impromptu drew a sketch of a rooster calling for the dish. The third-generation owner, Abdul Khalid, reveals that offers worth crores of rupees were made by different people to buy out that sketch, but there was no way he would part with it.
Sitting a few metres away from Hussain’s creation is a recipe, in red background, which is the eatery’s pride. It’s a chicken curry recipe sent by film star Sanjay Dutt, which the restaurant has named Chicken Sanju Baba. You can order the dish there, and also click photos of the recipe to try at home. Although my favourite is the less-fancied chicken achari, which is a perfect blend of various masalas and the most tender chicken.
But it is the nalli nihari that keeps drawing me back to the eatery for the past several decades. I have it with the khameeri roti, ensuring the marrow doesn’t melt in the desi ghee, and the second helping (yes, second helping) with the delicious, non-spicy yet flavourful yakhni pulao.
I also ask for a single chicken leg tandoori, a juicy piece marinated to perfection. Let me add here that Noor Mohammadi creates melt-in-themouth seekh and shammi kebabs (chicken and buffalo meat), and the mutton nihari is equally delicious, but go for the real thing and you’ll come away licking your fingers.
There’s the usual daal ghost and paya (excellent), but such is the pull of nalli nihari and one can’t think of anything else.
For vegetarians, just two words: Stay away.
And finally, the rates: Nalli nihari, rotis, chicken leg, yakhni pulao, that’s my staple over here, and it costs around Rs 600. Yes, you read it right. Now go visit.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)